How to Build or Restore Confidence in You!
Sandy was a mess. She was struggling at work and in the relationships that mattered most in her life. It felt as though her world was unraveling right before her eyes. Several months earlier, her husband announced he was leaving her after 15 years of marriage and two children. This event alone shook her confidence. Then, her company downsized her position without notice. Thankfully, the three months of severance helped offset expenses but the three months had come and gone with Sandy still out of work. She was scared, angry, and hurt. Her confidence in herself was wrecked. Each morning, she would drag herself out of bed to help her kids prep for school and then stare at the walls wondering what the hell she was going to do.
If Sandy was your friend, what would you recommend she do to get her mojo back? Would you say “Sandy, stop feeling sorry for yourself and moping around all day”? Would you recommend she seek counseling or try to hook her up with a single friend?
Confidence is an interesting feeling, an internal manifestation that we allow to be influenced by events that may or may not be in our control. The outcome of these events can impact our confidence in a positive or negative way with our permission.
When should your confidence be calibrated? One should recalibrate their confidence when they have not properly prepared. Confidence in the absence of preparation is simply arrogance. Arrogance is ignorance and is too often mistaken for confidence. Arrogance is often born out of a lack of confidence in one’s ability, so the ego takes over in an effort to protect its vision of the person. Inside of each person, there is a struggle taking place. It is a struggle between reality and fantasy. Reality is who we are and fantasy is the story we allow the ego to tell us about ourselves. When the gap between the two becomes too great, bad things begin to happen. When ego takes over, we will do almost anything to protect the image of ourselves that it has created.
If Sandy were to ask herself honestly about the situation leading up to her current reality, she would likely say she can’t believe she didn’t see it coming. As she has reflected on the signals and signs leading up to her current situation, she is flabbergasted that she did not see it coming. Her ego was not allowing her to see the reality. Now she is living a reality that she is convinced must be similar to living in hell. There is good news for Sandy. When we live in reality every day, we are more likely to make the changes necessary to get our lives back on track after a derailment. Making the changes and believing in the future is the start of rebuilding our confidence. After the reality check, there are several actions to take and implement in your life that will immediately begin to rebuild your confidence.
Confidence is the foundation necessary for living a fully engaged and meaningful life. Without confidence, we spend the majority of our time seeking validation from external sources – peers, Facebook, family, etc. I will tell you right now that I believe in you and your ability to figure things out, but my belief is pointless without your belief.
- Accept your reality. Forgive yourself and others that have wronged you, and take action. These things alone will make all the difference for you. When we harbor anger, bury guilt, blame others, and deflect responsibility, there is no chance in regaining our confidence. If we accept, forgive, and take action, there is nothing that can stop us long-term. It is really a recipe for life.
- Start a routine. Nothing can restore confidence faster than the discipline of a regular routine. Routine can give us certainty. When we know what is next and discipline ourselves to follow the routine, we create space. This space is where we begin to think. Thinking allows us to formulate a plan. Plans coupled with actions build momentum. Momentum in the right direction builds confidence in our ability to change our current situation.
- Hone your skills. Take a class, read a book, listen to a podcast, learn a language. Skill development is another way to build confidence. This is because an increase in competence always leads to greater confidence. Dan Sullivan refers to it as the confidence-competence loop. Increased competence can also lead to higher levels of external confidence in your ability. This can be translated as trust. Competence leads to greater trust in your ability from others. While I am not a proponent of relying on external influences to impact your confidence, if the increase is from positive feedback, take it! When it is from negative factors, be skeptical. However, if you are living in reality, negative feedback can be a powerful catalyst for growth.
- Get off your butt! Exercise, while initially demoralizing, when practiced with consistency, is an amazing boost to confidence. Let’s face it, when you don’t feel well, you won’t do well. Let me remind you of the benefits of exercise: reduces the risk of disease, reverses the effects of stress, facilitates our ability to learn, increases happiness, improves sleep, boosts energy levels, improves memory, increases lifespan, increases self-confidence. The discipline of making yourself do something you really don’t want to do is an easy way to build confidence. I recommend finding a partner. Studies have shown that you are 83% more likely to show up when you have a partner counting on you. You can also hire a trainer because they want you to show up too.
- Join a community. Humans are communal creatures. We thrive in the right communities. When you are involved in a community that supports you, your confidence will continue to grow with their support. Community is also an opportunity to help others with your knowledge. This is another benefit of joining a community of like-minded individuals that have your back. A word of caution: don’t let your identity get tied up in the community. The community is not who you are and if we want to live in reality, it is important to keep this top of mind. Community is great for validating our ideas and building our confidence, but we must stay grounded in our own reality. Some suggestions for communities include church, professional groups, Toastmasters, workshops, seminars, or fitness groups.
- Help others. The fastest way to stop feeling sorry for yourself is to help someone else. The opportunities for contributing in a meaningful way to the lives of others are seemingly infinite. What are you passionate about? What are you willing to support? Who else do you know that is involved in helping others? Reach out and ask them for feedback. Often when we help others, we realize we don’t have it so bad. That can give us hope. Hope can lead to confidence and confidence will lead us to a life worth living. There is not much that’s better for the soul than the act of helping another human, humanity, or even animals.
Sandy is thriving now because she accepted reality and made a few changes. She started with a routine to help her out of her rut. Then she started an exercise habit with an old friend. Just these things lifted the fog of her insecurities. From time to time, the despair creeps in, but now she has the tools to help her overcome the temptation to give up.
When your confidence is rocked, don’t shrivel up into a ball on the floor forever. Do it for a while, but get up and take action. Implement some or all of these suggestions and your confidence will return stronger than before. Life is a series of test and trials. The best strategy I am aware or for tackling and overcoming all is to prepare and believe. Always be growing your competence, and your confidence will always be accessible.